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While facelifts have continued to increase in popularity and overall numbers, the procedures has also undergone a bit of paradigm shift over the past decade. While once thought of as a procedure of older age and to be done closer to or after retirement, greater numbers of facelifts are done today in middle aged patients. When done at this stage in life, it is highly likely that one will outlive the benefits of the initial operation and live to ‘need’ another one.

While every facelift patient always asks how long it will last, this question takes on even greater relevance in the middle-aged patient who has it done today. In the March 2013 issue of the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a paper was published entitled ‘A 20 Year Experience with Secondary Rhytidectomy: A Review of Technique, Longevity, and Outcomes’. While the purpose of the paper was to look at techniques unique to those patients who are undergoing a second facelift, it cast great relevance to the duration of facelift results.

In this paper, they report over 800 facelifts performed over the time period studied of which 60 were secondary facelifts. The average time between the first and the second facelift was 9 years. Interestingly there were 10 patients who actually had a third facelift and the time between the second and the third facelift was 7.5 years.

There have been numerous studies of late that have looked at how long a facelift lasts. The numbers reported range anywhere from 7 to 14 years depending on the paper and the number of patients studied. Putting all of these paper together, it would be fair to say that the ‘average’ length of facelift durability can be safely rounded off to the 10 year mark. There are a large number of variables involved in how long a facelift lasts from the surgical technique used to the genetics and environmental factors of the patient’s rate of facial aging.

There is also the extreme variability in the level of the patient’s ‘need’ that warrants a second facelift. Some patients will want to do something as soon as they see a little bit of recurrent jowling or loose neck skin. Conversely other patients may not want to do something until they see a near or complete return of their initial signs of aging that motivated them to have the procedure in the first place. The reality is that no one can predict how long a facelift will last in anyone on a per patient basis. The best number that can be given is a popoulation average…which is 9 to 10 years.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

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